goosecreekboys

Gators coach Blake Hall emphasizes rebounding during a fourth quarter timeout.

GOOSE CREEK -- After a 15-win regular season, Goose Creek boys basketball coach Blake Hall thinks his club can make a solid run in the Class AAAAA Lower State playoffs.

The Gators opened the postseason in solid fashion on Wednesday night, knocking off area rival Fort Dorchester, 59-49, to advance to Saturday’s second-round game.

Goose Creek never trailed in the contest and held a comfortable margin for most of the contest. Sophomore Yaturi Bolton led Goose Creek with 19 points, while all-region 7-AAAAA selections Jamel McGowan and Travelle Simmons added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

The Gators led 11-2 in the early minutes of the game, forcing several turnovers to claim a 17-6 lead after the first period.

“I thought we were really good early, really engaged with good focus,” Hall said. “We got a little sloppy in the second half and that was a little disappointing. I’m proud of them though. I’d rather win sloppy than lose pretty. It’s about winning the games now. We’re capable, if we can put it all together. We can play with anyone.”

Goose Creek maintained a 28-17 halftime advantage and expanded the margin to 13 at 39-26 after three quarters. Fort Dorchester (11-13), led by Antoine Parker’s 24 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, managed to whittle the lead down to six at 41-35 with 5:42 left in the game.

Goose Creek withstood the run and Shakarian Nelson’s bucket and free throw pushed the lead back to 51-38 with 1:44 remaining.

“Sort of been the trend this year. We tend to lose focus or get tired in our games, for whatever reason,” Hall said.. “We’ve won more than we’ve lost so far and we’ve had a good season. But we haven’t put it all together yet. We’re still looking to play four quarters and it’s coming.”

Goose Creek will travel to undefeated and third-ranked Lexington on Saturday. The Wildcats struggled in their playoff opener before beating South Florence, 45-35.

“I have a tremendous level of respect for Lexington and coach (Bailey) Harris,” Hall said. “It’s a challenge but I think we’re a tough out. Coach Harris is a legend in this state and his kids are well-coached and they find ways to win games. We’re looking forward to it.”

Mason Grant also reached double figures for the Patriots, scoring 15 points, eight in the final period.